National upstart No. 15 UCF authored one of the biggest upsets of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era, an offensive-flavored 52-42 victory over heavily favored No. 6 Baylor in the 43rd Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Shattering one Tostitos Fiesta Bowl record (94 total points) and nearly breaking another (1,106 total yards, second-highest total) while running 160 offensive plays, UCF, champion of the inaugural American Athletic Conference, and Baylor, a first-time Big 12 Conference champion, both appeared in their first BCS bowl games.
They entertained a national ESPN viewing audience with a non-stop offensive fiesta.
UCF, en route to the biggest win in school history, never trailed and bent but didn’t break in the face of Baylor’s lethal offense that set the NCAA record for points in a 13-game season (681) after leading the NCAA in total offense (624.5 yards per game) and scoring (53.3 points per game) during the regular season.
UCF spurted to an eye-opening 14-0 lead on 11- and two-yard rushing touchdowns by running back Storm Johnson on the Knights’ first two possessions that capped marches of 76 (six plays) and 51 (five plays) yards, respectively.
The Knights then survived turnovers on three consecutive second-quarter possessions — interception, interception and fumble. But the Bears only were able to turn the three takeaways into seven points, a 30-yard pass from quarterback Bryce Petty to wide receiver Levi Norwood that pulled Baylor within 14-13 with 5:05 to play in the second quarter.
UCF removed all doubt with three touchdowns and a field goal on four consecutive second-half possessions.
The Knights appeared to take control with back-to-back touchdown drives to end the third quarter (10-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Breshad Perriman) and begin the fourth stanza (15-yard rush by quarterback Blake Bortles) that gave the Knights a seemingly comfortable 42-28 lead with 13:37 to play.
But the Bears answered with a four-play, 53-yard touchdown drive, completed by running back Glasco Martin’s nine-yard six-point burst, and the UCF lead was cut to 42-35 and Baylor’s offense was ready to purr.
UCF calmly answered Baylor’s final challenge with 10 more points on Johnson’s third rushing touchdown, a 40-yard scamper, and a 36-yard Shawn Moffitt field goal. The Knight’s lead had swelled to 52-35.
Bortles accounted for 394 total yards (301 passing, 93 rushing) and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) en route to offensive player of the game honors. His performance was closely matched by his Baylor counterpart, Petty, who was responsible for 373 total yards (356 passing, 17 rushing) and three touchdowns (two passing, three rushing). Petty’s three rushing touchdowns set a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl record.
Both squads boasted a 100-yard rusher; UCF’s Johnson notched 124 yards on 20 carries for three touchdowns, while Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk added 117 yards on 17 totes.
Knight Rannell Hall led all receivers with 113 yards on four catches, good for two touchdowns.
UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer, who led all tacklers with 14 stops (eight solos), was voted the game’s outstanding defensive player.
The Knights’ 52-point output was its highest point total against a ranked team in school history.
Despite allowing 42 points and 550 total yards, UCF’s defense held Baylor 11.3 points and 74.5 total yards shy of its regular-season averages.
Baylor also was stymied by 17 penalties for 135 yards. Both figures rank second in Tostitos Fiesta Bowl annals.